VON: With our hosts

I’m in San Jose at the first day of Jeff Pulver’s second Video on the Net confab. On the stage are three of our video hosts: Dina Kaplan of Blip.TV, Dmitry Shapiro of Veoh, and Robert Petty of Roo with Om Malik moderating. Some live-blogging:

Dina Kaplan of Blip.TV: “This year… we will think about shows as just being shows” no matter where we watch them. More web shows will be available on TV, and more TV series will be available on our computers. So what matters is quality.

Dmitry Shapiro of Veoh says that the producers of small TV are getting more and more resources. This, too, will improve quality and so that means that quality — not medium — is what will matter.

Robert Petty of Roo says that people watch more and more video online. On Roo, a year and a half ago, they watched an average of 4 minutes 30 seconds; last July, that had increased to 30 minutes.

Om Malik says it’s his job to play devil’s advocate and he asks whether we are entering phase two of internet video, when it will be made with the same production value (and cost) that makes broadcast TV “worth stealing.” Dina says that Michael Eisner bought Sam has Seven Friends, a successful web serial, and it was not made to Hollywood standards and budgets. Dmitry acknowledges that when you throw money at something, you will see a difference.

Dmitry says that internet TV is not new TV, it is an evolution of TV as we knew it. I heartily agree. He also talks about watching tech talks on Google and the context, not the production quality, matters in that case. I also say that TV can be overslick and that leaches its authority in certain cases.

Om points to YouTube’s new awards and wonders whether Blip and Veoh will become like networks. Dina disagrees and says that the users are the programmers and so the Blips and Veohs are not in the position to make stars. “We’ve created the first ever entertainment marketplace where the best content rises to the top, not based [on programmers] but on what you people say,” she says.

Dmitry says that he believes in a few years, “every single video on Blip will have the opportunity to be monetized… it may be by the laundromat down the street, but the money will be there.” Later, he says that the money in this space will be “obscene.”

Dmitry says let’s be honest, “we are video hosting sites… but we are the beginning of a new medium I call internet television.” It will start with hosting sites that will evolve with better tools and monetization and such. Om says there are now 367 such sites. Dmitry says there will be thousands. The big problem is how we help people discover content. Amen. How do you look for Lost: search for ‘deserted island’? ‘Weird plot’? So finding the videos will need to improve and so will the viewing experience. “If I go to CBS on my cable box, and then I go to NBC, the user interface is exactly the same.”

J.D. Lassica of Our Media says that today is their two-year anniversary. He thinks they may have been the first. Look at what has happened since…

I ask what the role of these companies will be in the future. I say that I love Blip and Veoh and know investors in Roo and can’t avoid the power of YouTube. I say it’s like dating three women at once: who gets dinner? (I admit that I never had this problem but, hey, a guy can dream, can’t he?).

Dmitry says Veoh serves viewers, producers, and advertisers. “For content owners we provide a comprehensive platform for them to reach their viewer: hosting, syndication, monetization….” For viewers, they provide a player that will deliver videos not just from Veoh but from your own feeds. ” You shouldn’t have to care as the viewer where the content comes from.” Or you may not know what you want to watch and the service tells you. So I think he’s saying that the real role of these companies in the future is as aggregation and recommendation services. “Discovering, consuming, interacting with, organizing….”

Roo says it is not a destination. They provide the tools for partners.

Dina agrees with Dmitry that just as there are thousands of sites that do well serving text on the web there will be thousands for video. But they will be specialized. She says YouTube is about viral video. There will be sites for skateboarding videos. Blip caters 100 percent to people making good shows (that is, series). She says that too their surprise the company is becoming a new-media talent agency. They’ve had two of their shows sign deals with HBO and another with MTV. And Dmitry adds that, of course, the traditional talent agencies are getting involved as well. UTA is here.

  • Paw

    “Dmitry says Veoh serves viewers, producers, and advertisers. “For content owners we provide a comprehensive platform for them to reach their viewer: hosting, syndication, monetization….”

    I’d love to know, Jeff, how much they’ve paid out to content owners to date, versus how much revenue (from any source, advertising, etc.) they’ve kept for themselves. It doesn’t appear from your description that they spend any money producing any content at all. The Veoh website says this:

    “Veoh enables you to

    Automatically syndicate to YouTube, MySpace, Google Video, and Facebook. Veoh does all the work for you so you don’t have to spend hours manually uploading to each site.

    Make money on your videos by charging on a pay-per-view basis.”

    If this means you, the content producer, can try to charge people to watch the videos you make, good luck with that. Seems like Veoh gets the content whether you get paid for it or not.

    sounds like another YouTube, building a business on the backs of other people’s work…

  • It seems ironic that at the same time everyone is being pushed into buying a high def large screen TV the content pioneers are releasing their material in a format best seen in a three inch frame on a PC.

    HDTV is all about presentation, the web is all about content. Two markets?

  • I agree with Paw. Web hosting sites are tantalizing for producers, but also present problems — monetization, intellectual property rights, control. The question for producers is: to upload or not to upload? Why can’t producers create independent micro networks on niche subjects and webcast directly to viewers? More sophisticated video seach will help refer eyeballs to watch on our own sites. Coming soon? That’s what were banking on at dadlabs.com.

  • Dimitri is right, about the money, to a point. It WILL be ‘obscene’…but it’ll be so diffused that it’ll be difficult to measure except by examining the host site books. Too bad Arthur Anderson went down.

    The great thing about this is that anybody willing to put forth a genuine effort at quality is going to find a reward SOMEWHERE, instead of being relegated to the bottom of some script stack on a producer’s desk. Wish it’d happened twenty years ago.

    I like Daddyclay’s point – and in response to his question, ‘to upload or not to upload?’ I answer: if you don’t want to risk it, don’t upload it. Period. If you post it, be prepared to see it appropriated elsewhere…and rejoice ye therefore (after all, theft IS the most sincere form of flattery.) If you’re worried about protecting contect, don’t even think that streaming it is foolproof – the tools exist to snag it and recirc it. Stick to the (bigger) screen and just publish jpegs or, at most, motion GIFs, online. If they want to see the product, they will come. If not, bummer…thou shalt die the deserved death…

    And YES, Robert, TWO MARKETS. At least until the price comes down on HD sets…and at least for as long as it takes bandwidth to catch up with HD…where the roads may once again merge…

  • Paw

    Perhaps, Robert, it’s because most TV viewing is done at home and most web video viewing is done at work, students excluded. I do in fact believe you can service both of these markets – unlike Jeff, however, I don’t believe one is going to swallow the other. The practice of watching videos on the net isn’t going away – but I wouldn’t call it watching TV.

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